Gil Mantera’s Party Dream: Unplugged…Again…and Again…and Again…
Walking into Beauty Bar makes you wish you’d donned your black leggings (guys), pretentiously coiffed hair, and the gaze that screams, “I just threw up in the bathroom.” Well, that might be a tad extreme, but it appears Gil Mantera’s Party Dream and Camel Cigarettes bring out the hipster’s hipster. While the hipster ‘tude and body odor are usually a deal breaker for any venue for Coffee and Doughnut, the hype surrounding the Party was enough for us to make headway to the front of the stage at Beauty Bar on Saturday, December 15.
The anticipation was high for the start of the show. With PBRs, gin and tonics, and Lone Stars tightly in hand, The Gil Mantera party train was ready to leave the station. Gil Mantera’s Party Dream consists of Gil Mantera on synthesizer and banana hammock (we’ll explain in a bit) and Ultimate Donny on guitars and grating vocals. OK so we haven’t been completely fair in describing the band, but the hype that surrounded them and the phrases “banana hammock, Fleetwood Mac covers, and better than Ghostland Observatory” made us stand up and take notice. How could two “duuudes” from Ohio that started their “party dream” as a joke band consider themselves legitimate artists? Or are we just missing the point? As somewhat unbiased 3rd parties to this type of show, we wanted it to give it the fair reviewing it deserved.
The start of the show was promising. The lights were dimmed, the crowd began to buzz, and the synthesized beats took over. The curtains were drawn, and there stood Gil Mantera and the Ultimate Donny, illuminated by a lone Christmas tree. Ultimate Donny (who decides to name himself that?), looking like an extra from Magic: The Gathering, dove headfirst into the first song, a fast paced 80’s synth pop dance with vocals and lyrics from your favorite alt-rock band. Yeah, think about that for a second. After a few minutes, the band started to really get into it. Just as the first rocking song rose to climax, BAM – the first of four pre-ejaculatory power outages occurred (I hate it when that happens). The crowd began to wither, droop and soon filed out to the lounge for cigarettes, many of whom were just there for a sweet breath of designer second hand smoke (Hey, can I bum a Camel Smooth–Turkish-Tazzleberry-blend Number 29º4?).
The band rejoiced and got back into the swing of things after ten minutes. Gil Mantera, the synth pop keyboardist/lead strutter, began to gyrate uncontrollably and strip down to his black thong, which complemented his leather headband. This is the essence of the Party Dream: you are entering their world of mischief and mayhem, and it is up to you how much you want to take.
Using the Vocodor distortion method (again, similar to Ghostland), Gil Mantera had the crowd grooving and swaying, and the Beauty Bar disco ball provided the ambiance that in other circumstances, would have allowed the Party Dream to have taken off.
If you have ever seen a Ghostland Observatory show, then like us, you cringed at Gil’s lack of dance moves, microphone mastery, or convincing stage presence. I kept thinking, maybe this was an Andy Kaufman Man on the Moon moment, in which the only two people in on the joke are Gil and Donny. Donny soon lost his robe to reveal mascara-laden crazy eyes and in-your-face lyrics and dialogue. Soon Donny was asking girls to get up on stage and “[sic] take off their shirts and give him a massage.” What a classy guy. Luckily, the power dropped out yet again, and the hipster jeers became louder than the crinkle of PBR cans (never a good sign).
Now Gil and Donny seem like good ‘ol boys from Ohio who want to make a scene, give the crowd a show, and just generally have a fun time; and there is respect for that. There was definitely a positive party vibe in the air; we were waiting to have a great, dance-your-ass-off, party dream time. And a band can’t garner that kind of anticipation unless it has established itself at other venues. But the frustration of not bringing your A game to the Austin crowd would grate on anyone’s nerves. This show was a follow-up to the strong SXSW performance last year by the band, and they were out to impress, not severely disappoint. In fact, they had toned down the previous night’s show in Houston in order to show their true colors for the Austin extravaganza.
Soon the band began yelling and chiding the audience for not being understanding of the sound situation, and finally stumbled through some loud, thrashy, new Order-esque jams that just did not measure up to the hype that had preceded them. It was a fitting end to a lackluster show, that although may not have been the band’s fault, we blame them fully for it.
This show, in accordance with the BOT methodology of ratings, is given a half a stale bear claw and a 4 day old Starbucks Macchiatto. Maybe at some point they were tasty, but tonight they just gave us a stomachache. Or maybe it was the PBR.
Coffee and Doughnut took some fun, faux-artsy pics (gotta love underexposed shots from your standard issue handheld digi) from the show. A final thought: Go check out the party boys for yourselves though. We here at BOT realize that everyone has different, um, tastes…
–Doughnut & Coffee